By Kelly Grigg

How much time do you spend on self-care each day? Ten minutes? Twenty? An hour? This question is actually a bit difficult to answer, as self-care can include anything from showering to cleaning your kitchen. 

However, there’s something that we can ALL do in mere seconds and is a vital part of self-care. We can all smell damn good.

And here’s more good news. Making sure what we emit from our bodies smells pleasant has many benefits to our physical and mental well-being. If that’s not self-care, I don’t know what is. 

Are you sniffing what I’m sniffing? Follow your nose and read on!

Scent And Physical Health

How we smell is a direct result of our hygiene practices. Daily bathing, using deodorant and wearing clean clothes significantly contribute to our aroma. 

In addition, oodles of health benefits come from oral hygiene, and fresh breath is undoubtedly a notable advantage. (Garlic breath—be gone!)

Furthermore, regular hand washing helps prevent illness. (Good riddance, COVID-19!) So why not use a bougie soap, take a beat to cup your hands, and deeply inhale that goodness? Ahhhh. This mini self-care moment can be done many times throughout the day for a wee pick-me-up.

Scent And Mental Health

How we present ourselves, from our hairstyle to our clothes to our scent, says a ton about how we feel. For example, when we’re down in the dumps, we often procrastinate on cleaning our homes, doing our laundry or even bathing. This makes us feel worse, which causes us to slack even more, and the effect builds on itself. (As does the dirt and smell! Yuck!)

Conversely, spending time daily organising our surroundings, bathing and donning clean clothes helps us feel ready to face others giving us more confidence and pride in ourselves. This can boost our self-esteem, which others will see. This builds on itself, too. Hello, gorgeous you!

Scent can also act as an empowering form of self-expression. What feels better than confidently revealing our authentic selves? The bouquets we choose are unique and carried with us throughout the day. Fragrance can be used to express gender identity and boost self-love, and who doesn’t need a bit of that every day?

But smelling delightful doesn’t have to take 10 minutes, 20 minutes OR an hour. It stems organically from our daily routines and can be as quick as dabbing a favourite scent on our wrists and heading out the door.

The Science Of Scent

Yep—there’s a science behind all of this! Our brain processes our behaviours and emotions in the limbic system. Aromas stimulate this part of the brain, so whatever fragrance goes in immediately affects how we feel. 

We know that smell directly correlates to memory. For example, when we smell freshly baked bread, we are instantly catapulted to childhood memories of granny baking in the kitchen. 

But did you know that scent also contributes to your mood? In fact, 75% of our emotions are attributed to smell. So how can we use this knowledge to our advantage?

Fun Ways To Utilise Scents

There are ample techniques for infusing your body parts with fragrance to garner the longest-lasting effects. For example, spritzing your brush with a nicely-scented hair mist or using deodorant at night delivers the utmost aroma efficiency.

Taking a few minutes to carefully apply lotion after a nice, hot shower is a beautiful self-care experience. Just slow down and take the time to do a bit of self-massage and enjoy breathing in the smell of the lotion—I’m betting it will become a welcome ritual.

 A few drops of essential oil in your laundry can really escalate your freshness. And if you’re like me, you’ll love using them for their raw ingredients and, by default, less chemical-smelling qualities. My absolute favourites are natural, handmade products like these from Life By Ritual. You’re welcome! 

Scent Knowledge Is Power!

Aromatherapy has become an enormous industry, and there’s a good reason for it. Different scents have been shown to spark different results in our brains—how cool is that? Let’s use this info to our advantage. 

Some scents can calm nerves and leave you feeling more relaxed. Vanilla is comforting, reminding us of baking cookies, perhaps. Berry scents are said to spark the mind and revitalise the body, so they’re delightful to use for baths. Citrus smells seem to increase serotonin and brain stimulation. Oh, happy day! (No wonder I’m so drawn to citrusy perfumes!)

Do you have trouble winding down after a long day? Lavender has long been used as a sleep aid. Misting a lavender-scented linen spray onto your pillowcase before bedtime can help you catch those ZZZs quicker.

At the end of the day—literally—we all want to smell good. Focusing on it ensures we care for our physical and mental well-being. (And we’ll have more friends, too.) Will you be adding scents to your self-care routine?